Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Yes, more Washburne

Update: Chi-Town Daily News just used one of my WTS shots (from this past Sun.) as their photo of the day, right here...

So I spent Sat. the 8th showing Carol around a few favorite exploration sites, and Sun. we were both going to join in a group meet at Washburne. Eight of us managed to get there right around 8 a.m. (I didn't have much of a night out Sat., but some people did!). The sight of Washburne without the walkways connecting the main building and the east building under demolition was new to everyone but Carol and I, who'd seen it late on Saturday.

The walkways were down, just twisted beams left. Much of the east building's contents had been pushed out into a heap on the ground. I wasn't sure how we'd get in, but we realized it was still possible to go down (slowly, over icy debris) into the basement and take stairs up into the building. There was never much to see on the lower floors, but still I wanted to see all that was left. 100 (plus) years of helping...no more.

I crawled over whatever I had to to get photos out the windows of the debris below. This is the kind of stupid risky shot NV always seems to catch me doing, but I didn't see him for a while. I only ran into a few people a few times in that building; I think most of them gave up on it, even those who'd never seen it before, and headed to the main Washburne building. One of our group had never been in there.

But I liked the pile of debris. Obviously. And these shots turned out much better than anything I got inside the building. NV was one of the only people who spent time in Washburne east getting good shots, like this one that really shows off the eerie pastels (the square photos are especially cool). I was heartbroken once I discovered that well, that pile is virtually everything that was in the building; there weren't still filing cabinets and stacks of books to go through. Guess I should have done more on Thanksgiving...

I ran into NV eventually, soon after I found the way up to the roof, through a little room with not much but a rusted bedframe (odd). This was my first (and possibly only) time on this building's roof, so I got shots in every direction. We left the buildng and walked around outside, intending to go into the main building--but a police car was outside the fence. This is uncommon, but not unheard of there. We hid out for a while, tried to find a way around (nope) and eventually just risked going in the main building the normal way.

Carol called. Apparently everyone else had left, off to a factory I don't think they ever got into. She'd gone to spend some time in her car warming up. I was cold and soggy but willing to stay, so I waited for her to join us. She got this amusing shot of us waving her in (wow, we're both smiling?). NV took off before long; I'd spent more time talking to him that morning than in the previous 5 or so times I'd seen him put together.

I showed Carol more Washburne highlights, some of which she'd seen in the dark the day before. We opted not to climb into the tower--didn't want to risk it with the ice. I hadn't noticed this counselor's sign before; what I couldn't get a good shot of is its placement right above what used to be the walkway and is now a big gaping hole. DK called to pick me up and drive around; I had a little more time with Carol and made sure to show her the small theater.

We'd seen or heard many scrappers that day, the first I'd encountered on Washburne visits. Some picked through the debris piles, but one was actually walking the stairs in what's left of the west building. Can there possibly be anything left over there? Maybe it wasn't a scrapper; I know some other Flickr people showed up later in the day for photos. The scrappers NV and I or Carol and I talked to were friendly, I guess as friendly as you can be in that situation.

I said goodbye to Carol and DK (who I hadn't seen since the previous Sunday's hospital excursion) and I spent a long time driving around. We stopped over by the silos to get a shot looking west; I'd never gotten it from that side. There's a whole riverwalk with benches (actually, it's the canal, not the river) which I'm sure would be nice on a day that wasn't freezing and icy.

We didn't eat at Kevin's Hamburger Heaven; we ate at a place that USED to be Kevin's, but now goes by a different name, but I won't tell you now because I've got a story about this place, my all-time-best diner story. DK was willing to risk eating there for the first time. More driving, checking in on some demolition, then I got to show off my Lego advent calendar. My set of Washburne shots from many visits is here; and this is Carol's. (She may have taken as many shots on her first visits as I did. I think the place inspires that kind of attention.)

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